On Wednesday, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis suspended Orlando’s chief state prosecutor, accusing her of incompetence and neglect in her duties, mainly what he saw as leniency toward violent criminals. This action is part of DeSantis’s broader trend of using his executive powers assertively against local officials from the rival political party.
The governor suspended the elected state attorney for Florida’s Ninth Judicial Circuit, Monique H. Worrell, encompassing Osceola and Orange Counties. He justified the suspension by pointing to her handling three specific cases and a low incarceration rate. Among these cases was an incident where a gunman wounded two Orlando police officers.
This marks the second time within a year that DeSantis, a Republican with presidential ambitions, has employed the severe and highly uncommon measure of removing an elected state attorney. On both occasions, the attorneys have been Democrats.
DeSantis’s presidential campaign, which has emphasized cultural issues, has found difficulty resonating with likely Republican primary voters. According to a recent poll by the New York Times/Siena College, these voters have indicated a preference for a candidate concentrating on “restoring law and order” rather than defeating radical”‘ woke’ ideology.” DeSantis changed his campaign manager on Tuesday in response to the campaign’s challenges.
In August 2022, the governor attracted substantial criticism for removing Andrew H. Warren, Tampa’s chief prosecutor, who had joined 90 other elected prosecutors in promising not to prosecute those seeking or providing abortions. Many saw this removal as a politically calculated move. Nonetheless, Warren remains out of office, and DeSantis frequently references his removal during campaign speeches.
On Wednesday, Governor DeSantis outlined the reasons for Ms. Worrell’s suspension, stating that her office had prosecuted in a manner that skirted mandatory minimum sentences for gun and drug trafficking offenses. He also accused her of bypassing the pursuit of harsher penalties when possible; enabling juveniles to dodge serious charges or jail time; limiting child pornography charges; and improperly allowing some culprits to evade criminal convictions on their records.
To replace Ms. Worrell, DeSantis appointed Andrew A. Bain, a judge from the same judicial circuit. Ms. Worrell can appeal her suspension to the Republican-dominated State Senate or petition the Florida Supreme Court, where a majority of the justices were appointed by DeSantis, to consider her case.
In a Wednesday interview, Ms. Worrell expressed skepticism about receiving fair treatment from the state, stating that she did not “expect justice out of the state of Florida.” She also announced her intention to run for re-election to her position next year.